Solving MySQL Replication Lag with LOGICAL_CLOCK and Calibrated Delay

Posted by Alex Slotnick on Jan 13, 2017 6:02:00 PM

Last week VividCortex's Preetam Jinka published a post on his personal blog examining how our engineering team had overcome a problem with MySQL replication by using a new parallelization policy introduced in MySQL 5.7: LOGICAL_CLOCK.

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The solution we developed—which achieves faster replication via group commit and a carefully calibrated delay—can offer huge replication improvements, but its implementation isn't immediately obvious or intuitive. We thought it worthwhile to provide a fuller description of how we arrived at the solution Preetam outlined.

Bad Replication

Things started when Preetam noted that replication delay had been getting worse for some of our shards, in fairly periodic waves. These were the kinds of results we were seeing:

Replication Delay.png

As Preetam wrote in his post, a solution to these periodic delays was eluding us. "It wasn't about resources. The replicas have plenty of CPU and I/O available. We’re also using multithreaded replication (a.k.a. MTR) but most of the replication threads were idle."

There were a couple of attempted fixes that we attempted right away:

  • In order to speed up queries overall, double the instance and buffer pool sizes. It didn't help.
  • Increasing slave-parallel-workers didn't make a difference, and most seemed idle anyway.

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Interestingly, even at this early stage, we were aware of MySQL 5.7's LOGICAL_CLOCK parallelization policy. But our initial experiments with it offered nothing of value, even though the MySQL High Availability team had written that it offers optimal concurrency. The MySQL 5.7 reference manual defines LOGICAL_CLOCK like this:

LOGICAL_CLOCK: Transactions that are part of the same binary log group commit on a master are applied in parallel on a slave. There are no cross-database constraints, and data does not need to be partitioned into multiple databases.

Unfortunately, our first foray with --slave-parallel-type=LOGICAL_CLOCK actually resulted in slower replication than --slave-parallel-type=DATABASE. It didn't appear to offer an answer. [Spoiler alert: we had yet to develop a key component of how to optimize the new policy, involving grouping more transactions per binary log commit.]

Serious Delays

We weren't sure the best way to proceed. We noted that one major cause of bad replication can be long-running queries, because they parallelize on the master but serialize on replicas. A workaround can be to break big queries into many small ones. Or, to really fix the problem, get rid of MySQL replication altogether! Those weren't immediately viable or practical solutions, though.

At this point, a few of our shards were suffering some serious delays. The worst was behind by at least 16 hours. Here's a 30 day snapshot:

delayed shard.jpeg

We looked back at the master in order to understand the replica more fully. Looking at the write load on the master can be a good way to analyze what the replica's write load is doing, which might be making lag.

Using VividCortex, we examined the Top Queries related to the lagging shards  and noted that there had been a great deal of metrics, sketching, and—probably most importantly—downsampling surfaced over the past month.

Replication Delay Screenshot.png

The downsampling in particular had increased dramatically, though it still wasn't the top contributor to these top queries. However, that kind of change is significant; delays like the ones we were seeing can be the result of redownsampling, causing duplicate work.

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In the screenshot below, note where the cursor is hovering over the sparkline. With VividCortex, we're able to look at the total of execution time in the pictured period—which, in this case, was ten seconds. Hovering over a point shows an instantaneous value as a rate; here, that essentially means ten seconds of execution per second. So, the concurrency of query #1 is 10x. If this isn't possible to parallelize at least 10x on the replica, the replica will not keep up with the master.

Concurrency rate.jpeg


At this point, Preetam returned to the original idea of experimenting with LOGICAL_CLOCK. But this time, he also took note of binlog_group_commit_sync_delay, introduced in MySQL 5.7.2+.

Controls how many microseconds the binary log commit waits before synchronizing the binary log file to disk… Setting binlog-group-commit-sync-delay to a microsecond delay enables more transactions to be synchronized together to disk at once, reducing the overall time to commit a group of transactions because the larger groups require fewer time units per group (MySQL Reference Manual).

We applied a commit delay to our straggling shards… and voila.


Before Delays.jpeg


After Delays.jpeg

After Delays 2.jpeg

It took us a couple tries to find the exact setting for the binlog_group_commit_sync_delay. We started with 50 ms, but that was too much. Overall query latency went up (by ~50 ms) and caused the consumers to fall behind.

On the other hand, 500 µs was too low, and it caused the replicas to fall behind again.

At first, 3 ms appeared to be the sweet spot, and resulted in what looked like overall replication improvement. Success! However, over the next few days, the replicas eventually started falling behind again, and we responded by upping the delay; it's at 10 ms now.

This last delay increase actually confirmed some feedback that Jean-François Gagné commented on Preetam's blog post shortly after it was published. Jean-François wrote

In my experience, 3 ms for delaying commit on the master is not a lot. On some of my systems, I am delaying commit by up to 300 ms (0.3 second), but this system does not have a very high commit rate (transactions are "big"). If 3 ms is working well for you, my guess is that you have a very high commit rate and very short transactions. 

He also kindly shared these links for additional reading:



Overall, this was an interesting issue to address and not at all as obvious as one might think. We hope the solution we arrived at is useful for you and your organizations, especially if these MySQL settings were previously unfamiliar. Is this something you've used before? If not, and this post inspires you to experiment with them now, how well do they work? Do different delay settings work even better for you? Let us know!

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